MALKANGIRI: The Swabhiman Anchala displayed two facets on April 11, the day when the erstwhile cut-off region and a Maoist bastion went to polls. While Maoist threat kept voters of eight villages under Kunurpadar away from voting, the Badpada and Jantapai villages presented a picture in stark contrast.
The two villages adjoining the Gurupriya bridge, earlier considered the Ground Zero due to Maoist activities, recorded 71 and 62 per cent voting on Thursday and sent out a resounding message of people’s faith in democracy. The people’s voice was loud and clear as Jantapai was the village where the former Collector Vineel Krishna was abducted by Maoists in 2011.
Five polling stations were set up at Badpada, on the other side of the Gurupriya Bridge where the enthusiastic voters of Suapalli, Dhuliput and Badpada villages cast their votes in five booths. However, no voter of Tentapalli village turned up to for voting. Similarly, the villagers of Patna, Doliamba, Tentuliguda and Jantapai villages voted at six polling stations set up at Jantapai.
The high turnout was despite the Maoists’ warning against voting in the elections. The people defied the poll boycott call and took part in the democratic process with great excitement.
At the back of this change is the Gurupriya bridge which has not only opened the world to the people of the erstwhile cut-off region but also acted as prime confidence-building measure for them. The bridge has resulted in fast-paced development of the connected villages and also enhanced the sense of security among the people by deployment of security forces like the elite BSF.
“People of Badpada and Jantapai have experienced a real transformation in their lives in the few months that have passed by after Gurupriya bridge was opened. The large-scale area domination operation ahead of the polls along with the confidence-building measures put in place by BSF made us to cast our votes in large numbers without fear,” said Jagbandhu Golari, a resident of Badpada.
Overwhelmed with the voters’ response, Chitrakonda-based BSF 8th Battalion Commandant AK Arya, who is in-charge of security in Swabhiman Anchala, said that it is the outcome of manifold measures like large scale civic action programme, reaching out the people at ground zero and redressing their grievance while discharging the role as a facilitator for development and welfare of the people.
Voter participation has equally enthused the district administration. “It shows that the administration has become successful in winning confidence of the people of Swabhiman Anchala,” District Election Officer and Collector Manish Agarwal said.
The role of Gurupriya bridge in making elections possible cannot be overlooked as the still-cut-off villages like Jodamba, Andrapalli, Jantri, Sanyasiguda, Handikhal, Panasput, Singoi and Gurasetu have reported nil voting.
However, as connectivity expands to the areas and development reaches the people in those areas in they will also join in, said officials.